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Gilles Villeneuve

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Gilles Villeneuve

Postby DixonFan on Tue Aug 10, 2010 9:00 am

I'm nearly through his biography by Gerald Donaldson. Most of what I knew of Gilles was some of the legendary stuff, but this book has been a real eye opener, and gave me an appreciation of why he is so highly rated in the history of F1.

One bit that really surprised me was Gilles' heartrate when hooked up to a monitor. I know a bit about heart rates from my running, and knowing that drivers are regularly in around 180-200bpm gives me a slight insight to what they endure. But not Gilles. When he was hooked up in the race he was averaging 127bpm. During a crash in practice he peaked at 168. The only thing that really got him going was a quali lap in the spare car, were he got up to 182bpm.

Absolute legend.
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Re: Gilles Villeneuve

Postby Lawrence on Tue Aug 10, 2010 6:07 pm

In the early 80s I used to read Rob Walker's (independent team owner who ran Stirling Moss, among others) race reports and annual driver ratings in Road&Track. He used to always sort of rag on Villeneuve for being wild and reckless and never gave him very good ratings.
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Re: Gilles Villeneuve

Postby Funkmother on Wed Aug 11, 2010 5:52 am

DixonFan wrote:... When he was hooked up in the race he was averaging 127bpm ...


He must've been one cool customer. 8)
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Re: Gilles Villeneuve

Postby DixonFan on Wed Aug 11, 2010 8:49 am

Lawrence wrote:In the early 80s I used to read Rob Walker's (independent team owner who ran Stirling Moss, among others) race reports and annual driver ratings in Road&Track. He used to always sort of rag on Villeneuve for being wild and reckless and never gave him very good ratings.


Wild and reckless indeed he was. Had he not met his tragic end I'm not sure he would have ever been WDC, at least not the way he drove. One of his last races his tyres were crapping out well before the finish, and it was pretty obvious to all, including Gilles. Needless to say he ran out of adhesion and left the track, not to return. He was asked why he didn't pit for tyres, and his reply was it is better to go out in the lead than to pit and settle for 6th...
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Re: Gilles Villeneuve

Postby Lawrence on Wed Aug 11, 2010 11:54 am

DixonFan wrote:
Lawrence wrote:In the early 80s I used to read Rob Walker's (independent team owner who ran Stirling Moss, among others) race reports and annual driver ratings in Road&Track. He used to always sort of rag on Villeneuve for being wild and reckless and never gave him very good ratings.


Wild and reckless indeed he was. Had he not met his tragic end I'm not sure he would have ever been WDC, at least not the way he drove. One of his last races his tyres were crapping out well before the finish, and it was pretty obvious to all, including Gilles. Needless to say he ran out of adhesion and left the track, not to return. He was asked why he didn't pit for tyres, and his reply was it is better to go out in the lead than to pit and settle for 6th...


That is not the only time he did that. In 1981 or 82 he was leading in Brazil (I think) and Piquet was closing in on him. It was obvious that Piquet was going to get him soon and was right on his tail....so he decided to take one corner a little faster to stay ahead and went spinning off the track in dramatic fashion. When asked about it afterwards, he pretty much said the same thing (and he only would have had to settle for 2nd).
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Re: Gilles Villeneuve

Postby Funkmother on Thu Aug 12, 2010 4:00 am

So he was definitely a "glory or bust" kind of guy.
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Re: Gilles Villeneuve

Postby DixonFan on Thu Aug 12, 2010 9:24 am

I got the impression it wasn't so much that he hated losing (a driver for some people - the fear of failure), it was more he wanted to be the fastest ALL the time. He would be 10/10ths every lap, with no consideration to race strategy, let alone championship strategy.

It seemed as though he realised after the '79 season that winning the championship wasn't just about being fastest all the time, that taking a more measured approach like Schekter was a better way to go about things. But that wasn't the Gilles way... Sounds like his road driving was the same - flat out. He and Didier had a challenge one day while sharing a drive in a Ferrari 308 from France to Maranello to see who could stay in top gear, foot to the floor, for the longest(!) The cops eventually stopped them (basically set up a road block), but of course when they saw who it was got autographs etc and let them on their way.

The book is an excellent read for any F1 fan, really well written and highly recommended.
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Re: Gilles Villeneuve

Postby Lawrence on Fri Aug 13, 2010 2:03 am

DixonFan wrote:I got the impression it wasn't so much that he hated losing (a driver for some people - the fear of failure), it was more he wanted to be the fastest ALL the time.


Yea, he was very different from the Senna/Schumacher/Alonso mold. He was very popular with the other drivers at the time also. An irrepressible personality.
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Re: Gilles Villeneuve

Postby Lyria on Fri Aug 13, 2010 12:33 pm

It was a tragedy that he died the way he did, he was a hell of a guy and a hell of a driver by all accounts. Shame he died relatively young, especially given he had two little kids, then again I imagine if he'd had a choice he'd probably have chosen that way to go, doing what he loved and so on.
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Re: Gilles Villeneuve

Postby Paolo 2 on Tue Dec 14, 2010 7:17 am

Lawrence wrote:In the early 80s I used to read Rob Walker's (independent team owner who ran Stirling Moss, among others) race reports and annual driver ratings in Road&Track. He used to always sort of rag on Villeneuve for being wild and reckless and never gave him very good ratings.


that's an interesting quote because if you think about what Villeneuve did in Monaco and Jarama in 1981 it is ablsolutely clear that he could easily look after the car and still be very fast. I think that Villeneuve is a clear example of the "old style" driver versus the current crop of drivers. He'd take a risk to go faster around a bend but he wouldn't risk killing one of his peers, so we remember him for the odd off track excursion rather than for causing colossal pile ups. Villeneuve had a few problems during his early years, but he didn't know the tracks and he hadn't followed the same path to F1 as most of his peers, he only had 1 outing in F2 (and that was an era when F2 still mattered). Once he adjusted to F1 IMHO he was sensational, pity the car he had was not very good: in 1979 the 312T4 had a great engine and little more (and in the second half of the season the Williams was far ahead), in 1980 the T5 was disastrous, in 1981 the 126C wasa total joke, it couldn't stay on the road and the engine was so unreliable (just consider how many different turbos they tried, KKK, Comprex, etc, something that nowadays you can't imagine even in your worst nightmares). The point about Villeneuve is the way he controlled his car, you just have to look at some old footage and IMHO it becaomes apparent what was setting him apart from his peers, he was the most "natutal" driver of his era, his lines were always perfect. We remember him for being sideways "all the time", the reality was that he would be sideways on occasion but his lines would always be absolutely spotless
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Re: Gilles Villeneuve

Postby Paolo 2 on Tue Dec 14, 2010 6:56 pm

Cougar wrote:I believe he, and his team mate Didier Pironi, did not get along very well.


they only had problems after imola in 1982, when Pironi breached their agreement and passed him (after Villeneuve had done all the hard work with the two Renaults)
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Re: Gilles Villeneuve

Postby Lawrence on Tue Dec 14, 2010 7:22 pm

Paolo 2 wrote:
Lawrence wrote:In the early 80s I used to read Rob Walker's (independent team owner who ran Stirling Moss, among others) race reports and annual driver ratings in Road&Track. He used to always sort of rag on Villeneuve for being wild and reckless and never gave him very good ratings.


that's an interesting quote because if you think about what Villeneuve did in Monaco and Jarama in 1981 it is ablsolutely clear that he could easily look after the car and still be very fast. I think that Villeneuve is a clear example of the "old style" driver versus the current crop of drivers. He'd take a risk to go faster around a bend but he wouldn't risk killing one of his peers, so we remember him for the odd off track excursion rather than for causing colossal pile ups. Villeneuve had a few problems during his early years, but he didn't know the tracks and he hadn't followed the same path to F1 as most of his peers, he only had 1 outing in F2 (and that was an era when F2 still mattered). Once he adjusted to F1 IMHO he was sensational, pity the car he had was not very good: in 1979 the 312T4 had a great engine and little more (and in the second half of the season the Williams was far ahead), in 1980 the T5 was disastrous, in 1981 the 126C wasa total joke, it couldn't stay on the road and the engine was so unreliable (just consider how many different turbos they tried, KKK, Comprex, etc, something that nowadays you can't imagine even in your worst nightmares). The point about Villeneuve is the way he controlled his car, you just have to look at some old footage and IMHO it becaomes apparent what was setting him apart from his peers, he was the most "natutal" driver of his era, his lines were always perfect. We remember him for being sideways "all the time", the reality was that he would be sideways on occasion but his lines would always be absolutely spotless


Yea, I would like to pull up some of those old Rob Walker ratings now (are the 1970s and 1980s issues of Road and Track on line now?). But he used to rate the entire field 1 thru 10 at the end of each season. It was always an entertaining read and he was very opinionated.
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Re: Gilles Villeneuve

Postby Peter Verveniotis on Fri Jan 14, 2011 1:02 am

Even though he was a bit of a nut driving and wrecking Ferrari's , Enzo himself gave him his blessing to treat his cars however he wished . Gilles was probably one of Enzo's last favorite drivers
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Re: Gilles Villeneuve

Postby Funkmother on Fri Jan 14, 2011 2:27 am

Welcome Peter. That seems to be a contradiction. Does that mean he was able to tolerate his treatment of the cars because he got results?
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Re: Gilles Villeneuve

Postby Lyria on Fri Jan 14, 2011 1:46 pm

Welcome Peter, hope you enjoy the forum 8)
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